Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wauquiez in Denver

Laurent Wauquiez, former government spokesman and current secretary of state for employment, is in Denver for the Democratic Convention. He is impressed by the intersection of politics and "civil society" and the organization of the mammoth event. When asked why the Democratic rather than the Republican Convention, he said, "Personally, I feel closer to the figure of Obama than to that of McCain." Not to Obama, mind you, but to the figure of Obama. A portent? Has an ambitious young French politician discerned something in Obama's narrative and method that might be usable at home? It would be interesting to know what.

A Stunner!

Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to impose a 1% tax on capital--dividends and rental income--to finance the Revenu de Solidarité Active (RSA). This is a stunner. It not only rescues Sarkozy's promise to institute the RSA but also turns the tables on those who have accused him of being an American neocon hidden behind aviator sunglasses. Tax capital to pay for a welfare program!! Why, the very idea stands neocon political economy on its head. It is also an incredibly astute political move as the Socialists maneuver in advance of their convention. It undercuts their most potent attack against Sarkozy, that the TEPA was a giveaway to the rich whose cost has hamstrung government action on other fronts. It sets the tone of la rentrée politique and reinvigorates Sarko's presidency at a moment when some sort of tonic is sorely needed. A very interesting move.